World’s Biggest Fans of the World’s Smallest Museum

In the small town of Superior, Arizona, on the scenic Highway 60, rests an unassuming cafe and restaurant with a very surprising special feature; as indicated on the road sign, the Buckboard City Cafe is also home to the World’s Smallest Museum. You can find the Buckboard City Cafe on the western perimeter of Superior- though if you blink while driving past, you might miss it. The World’s Smallest Museum is a charming spot, though, and if you happen to be driving near the area, you certainly will not want to miss it. This is, of course, not the official site for the museum, but a dedication to this lovely little spot. It looks like a barn, but it is- as the title suggests- a whole lot smaller than your average barn, just as it is a lot smaller than your average museum!

The entire museum is just one aisle- raising the question: if there is only one aisle, is it even an aisle? Or, is it just a room? This tiny museum defies all expectations of what a museum can be- the walls are lined with shelves with glass fronts. The building is small, indeed, but the wonders inside activate the imagination- there is a lot to learn from the few chosen artefacts which have been specifically chosen to activate the wonder and engage the curiosity of those with the adventurous spirit to pull off the highway and take a gander at everything that this wonderful place has to offer. The museum does not seem “set” on any one specific era or theme; the collection of oddities ranges all the way from the middle of the 20th century to the end, with some being quite hard to imagine a date for. There are presidential campaign materials, random collectables, strange memorabilia from pop-culture (TV shows, movies, and concerts for example), outdated technology spanning from quill pens to clunky old cameras to an old HP computer which is so ancient that it is almost mind-blowing to look at (complete with 10mb hard drive), and even some antiquated machinery such as a mimeograph! The collection stays the same - more or less - but has managed to evolve in a superb way with each minor addition over the years. In many ways, this strange place is hardly less than a tiny barn-shaped shed filled with weird items- while in others, it is a resourceful, unique, and quirky “must-see” when driving through Arizona.

The World’s Smallest Museum has been operating since the middle of the 1990s, and it is the project of two men: Jake Reaney and Dan Wight. At first, it was just a gimmick to convince potential customers to pull off the highway and grab a bite to eat at the Buckboard City Cafe. But, through years of evolution, the museum itself has gained quite a reputation; thus, it would not be hard to make an argument that Jake Reaney and Dan Wight were successful in what they set out to achieve-- not to mention, both men were happy to have a purpose for a lot of the quirky items they had managed to collect over their lifetimes!

Tourists will often take pictures of the interesting items which rest beneath the glass panels. Some of the most popular spots for “photo-ops” are the awkward home computer which, by today’s standards, is a total eyesore- the computer generally reminds visitors how much progress has been made in such a short amount of time! The poster of The Beatles is also a crowd pleaser- and no, I know what you’re thinking, and the fab four never actually made their way to Superior, Arizona… as far as we know! One very interesting item is a letter addressed to one of the museum’s founders, Mr. Jake Reaney, written by the one and only President John F. Kennedy- or, rather, “President-elect” at the time he wrote it. It is very interesting, and sweet that the man of such importance was willing to write young Jake back!

In terms of real, significant installations in the museum, perhaps none is more monumental than the world’s largest Apache Tear- which is a type of rock; ironic, of course, that the world’s largest ANYTHING is featured in the World’s Smallest Museum! Naturally, the Apache Tear is a rock that is generally quite small in size, in general, so the rock does not take up a substantial amount of the museum’s space! Some say that the World’s Largest Museum is one of the most innovative uses of a Tuff Shed in the entire country! At 134 square feet, the tiny museum manages to make a big, lasting impact on many of the visitors who spend a couple of minutes wandering up and down the tiny “aisle,” even though it is rare for people to spend more than a few minutes before heading over to the restaurant for a quick bite to eat!

Many end up stopping at the museum as they go away from, or toward, a city like Phoenix, Arizona. Still, this is a town in Arizona that represents a completely different side of life than you will find in a metropolitan area like that. The museum, just like the town itself, is a model of rural American roadside simplicity. To the traveler, the sign which reads: “Buckboard City Cafe, Home of the World’s Smallest Museum” is an intriguing one- many will choose to stop here rather than some basic truck stop gas station, and few regret their choice. The cafe itself is quite nice and quaint- it is well-maintained and in great shape. Despite its location on a travel route, it seemed as if some locals were “Regulars” at the place, too. For seasoned travelers, this is always a sure sign that the place is a good one! In general, the Buckboard City Cafe has a very homey vibe, and they are exceedingly welcoming and pleasant to every customer who walks through the door. Between the decor, the clean and tidy upkeeping of the restaurant, and the wonderfully weird museum, it is very clear that the people at Buckboard City Cafe care deeply about their business, and do everything they can to not only grab the attention of passers-by, but to also provide them with an experience they will surely not regret.

The food? It leaves nothing to be desired. It is not fancy, but it’s exactly what you want from a highway diner in a spot like this. Low prices, well-prepared, and with all the coffee you can handle. We have had breakfast and lunch at this in the past, and enjoyed both thoroughly- though, if you have to pick one or the other and are unsure, we tentatively suggest the breakfast over the lunch. Still, despite the simplicity, the menu provides a wealth of selections for a range of appetites- highly recommended.

The employees are all wonderful. The entire establishment, between the museum and the cafe, do everything in their power to ensure that they can take pride in their work, and they surely earn every praise that comes their way.

It may seem like a museum that is hardly 8-feet long and is mostly filled with classic toys, buttons, clippings, posters, and archaic technologies, partnered with a modest roadside diner, might seem a little underwhelming or lacking. This could not be further from the truth. What the whole place may seem to lack in spectacle and pizazz (and admittedly lacks in size), any deficiency is undoubtedly made up for in heart. All in all, the World’s Smallest Museum and the accompanying Buckboard City Cafe are symbols of genuine, honest, classic Americana culture. Between the old truck tires artistically arranged on the grounds, the decrepit farming equipment strategically places, and the small train modeled with craft and care, this is a fantastic place to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and take in the many marvels of the World’s Smallest Museum-- even though the actual smallest museum in the world is not even on the continent. Is it worth making a major detour to see? If you’re in the area- absolutely! And we are sure that anyone in the area would be the first to encourage you to do that. Yes, if you’re traveling through the area (especially if you’re driving through town), there is no reason not to come check out this little pearl in the heart of Arizona.

Again, this is not the official site of the World’s Smallest Museum. This is an unofficial fan page created by some folks who love to stop by, see the museum, and go for a meal at the Buckboard City Cafe whenever they are passing through the area.